Bold age pensioners - care homes aren't all bingo and knitting

07 August 2020

OAPs get a history lesson after welcoming snakes and other reptiles into their animal therapy sessions.

While snakes, lizards and creepy crawlies might be scaring famous faces in ‘I’m a Celebrity’, pensioners at a Kensington care home has proved they are made of tougher stuff.

The Kensington Bupa care home spent an afternoon getting up close and personal with creatures including an adder, a water dragon and a Madagascar hissing cockroach.

Residents were also quick to embrace other animals including a gecko and giant African millipede, who were brought to the home by a trained handler.

Though the reptiles might not look endearing, the animal therapy sessions are designed to introduce the seniors to new experiences and boost their mental health. Adam Tallis, General Manager at The Kensington Bupa, said: “You wouldn’t expect a sweet old lady to be front of the queue to have her photo with a snake, but our residents are a fearless bunch.

“We host animal therapy sessions regularly and they always get a great response. Some people are apprehensive to start, but they end up with a smile on their face and a snake on their shoulders.”

Residents, David and Vanessa said: “We never thought we would ever go near a snake, and here we are holding one. We were initially apprehensive, but touching its smooth skin was quite an experience and a beautiful sensation for both of us.”

It’s not the first time that the home has organised animal visits for residents, with colleagues previously welcoming dogs, cats, guinea pigs and more.

Animal therapy has been shown to improve the mental health of older people and can help mitigate feelings of stress of agitation.

It’s particularly affective for those who become withdrawn from social situations – a common result of hearing loss or dementia – as the shared bond goes beyond verbal communication.

Adam, added: “There’s a misconception that life in a care home is all bingo and knitting, but in reality, it’s much more fun. When residents can’t get out and about, it’s our job to bring the world to them.

“I’d never had expected to see this kind of thing in care home but if it makes our residents smile, we’ll find a way to make it happen.”

Learn more about Kensington Care Home

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